The thought of losing Halloween at school is pretty scary for some Bexley students. One boy cried when his father broke the news that Maryland Elementary will replace its traditional class parties and costume parades this year with a November "fall fest," which is planned to include square-dancing and a service project. So parents took action.
The thought of losing Halloween at school is pretty scary for some Bexley students.
One boy cried when his father broke the news that Maryland Elementary will replace its traditional class parties and costume parades this year with a November “fall fest,” which is planned to include square-dancing and a service project.
So parents took action. About 140 had signed an online petition by last night, urging the school to keep its hands off Halloween.
The switch isn’t a districtwide decision — Bexley’s other two elementary schools, Cassingham and Montrose, will continue to celebrate Halloween.
Maryland Elementary parents filled a Parent Teacher Organization meeting last night to voice their concerns.
“There clearly is passion, and people want this on Halloween,” parent Jen Robinson said of the traditional parties and parade, which have been part of the school of 330 students since it opened its doors 70 years ago.
Principal Jon Hood told the group that each year, about 10 percent of families at the school keep their children home on Halloween or request that their children stay out of Halloween parties. About 30 students opted out last year.
Some stay out for religious reasons. Others complain that poorer families can’t afford costumes, leaving their children out. And still others said that younger students have suffered nightmares after seeing too-realistic spooky outfits.
Hood heard those complaints for years before gathering a group last year to find an alternative celebration. And fall fest was born for this year.
Other schools across the country have axed Halloween celebrations for similar reasons. A school in the Olentangy district quit allowing kids in Halloween costumes last year and drew fire from a district school-board member.
At Maryland Elementary last night, school officials and parents sought a middle ground in hopes of resurrecting Halloween this year.
To keep out darker costumes, parents suggested that classes host costume parties themed after children’s books. Some parents promised to donate castaway costumes to the school, for students without outfits.
They were adamant about the timing, though: It must fall in late October.
That might sound too much like Halloween with a different name to some parents, Hood worries. But he promised to consider their requests, gather more input and make a final decision in coming days.
“We probably didn’t do a good job of really keeping people informed,” he said. “Let’s find an avenue where we can come back and talk again.”